ISAAC, the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, announced that October is designated as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness Month. This ISAAC initiative began in 2007. ISAAC’s goal is to create worldwide awareness about how AAC can help individuals with little or no speech communicate using assistive technology tools and strategies to solve everyday communicative challenges.
AAC Awareness Month, themed “Dare to Lead,” is said to be dedicated to raising awareness of AAC and to inform the public about the many different ways in which people communicate using high-tech or low-tech communication aids and innovative communication strategies. The month of celebration is also designed to “sing the praises” of people who use AAC and their leadership within their communities.
“AAC enables users to master their unique challenges and equips them with tools to live without limitations, restoring their ability to communicate with the world around them,” said Lateef McLeod, ISAAC Chair for the Lead Committee.
“ISAAC is dedicated to integrating alternative methods of communication into society so we can focus on celebrating the gifts, heart, and brilliance of people who use AAC devices. ‘Dare to Lead’ is intended to inspire ISAAC members, people who use AAC aids, their families, and support teams to become community leaders, paving the way for understanding, acceptance, and awareness.”
Notably, renowned physicist Professor Stephen Hawking was able to bring attention to the technology and people who use AAC devices. Hawking once said, “we have a moral duty to remove the barriers to participation, and to invest sufficient funding and expertise to unlock the vast potential of people with disabilities.” Support and devices have continued to evolve over the years, making it possible for him and others to communicate, both in spoken and written form.
Earlier this year, ISAAC hosted the Short Film Festival to feature stories from the AAC community; click here to see community members who ‘Dare to Lead,’ demonstrating their unique gifts, and watch Cristian Rosas’ film “My Grito” as he celebrates his love for mariachis. One of the video entries, “I Have Aphasia,” shares the idea that iPad technology “helps us connect in different ways with each other, because we all have different ways of connecting, but as a whole group we’re helping each other express what we feel inside as a person with aphasia.”
During this month, ISAAC engages its 15 global chapters to plan and/or attend AAC awareness events in their communities, or participate in online events. Chapters are encouraged to shine a light on the visions and leadership capabilities of people who use AAC toward future leadership opportunities—locally, nationally, or internationally. ISAAC members include people who use AAC, their families, therapists, teachers, students, doctors, researchers, organizations, and companies that make communication aids. Visit isaac-online.org to learn about AAC awareness month activities happening around the world.
ISAAC would like to thank this year’s initiative sponsor Attainment Company. Attainment Company is an independent, family-owned business based in Verona, Wisconsin, dedicated to helping people with disabilities succeed at school, work, and life.